By Jonathon Van Maren
It is a sad fact that while nations like the United Kingdom and the United States are having robust debates about the future of conservatism, Canada’s politics seem to revolve almost entirely around Pride Parades. It is a bizarre thing. if you just read the media reports and listened to the talking heads—both the so-called conservative ones and others—you’d read and hear all sorts of evidence-free babbling about how the Conservative Party got destroyed by Justin Trudeau because Andrew Scheer didn’t seem sufficiently enthusiastic about celebrating the many manifestations of the alphabet community.
The reality is much simpler—Scheer was a weak candidate, and his political weaknesses also manifested themselves when he was questioned about his socially conservative record as well as pretty much everything else. But that is not the discussion the media wants us to have, so instead they’re taking the opportunity to create an elaborate counter-narrative in which Canada, which is populated by a shockingly large number of social conservatives (including many who vote Liberal), utilized the 2019 federal election to announce that they are now fully on board with the LGBT agenda, and that anyone who isn’t is an electoral dead duck.
Despite the fact that this is total nonsense, the media is getting so carried away that some commentators are now claiming that the problem the Conservatives have is that they are only tolerant, when the times call for something much more emphatic. On a recent panel over on the CBC, former cabinet minister Stockwell Day tried to move on from the endless discussion by saying that people have the right to marry who they want, people can celebrate whatever they like, and that parades should not turn into some litmus test for social acceptability. Predictably, Day’s view was extremely concerning to lawyer and professor Tim Murphy, who ludicrously claimed that this was not nearly good enough for “most Canadians” despite the fact that “most Canadians” do not attend Pride.
“I kind of think Stock’s answer went in a weird direction fast,” he said gravely. “The core issue was tolerance versus celebration. I think there’s still a risk of it going weird inside the Tory caucus on that issue…It’s not just that we tolerate the rights they have in law—I think Andrew Scheer fell into that trap. So let me say, though, that progress on this issue, even in baby steps, is a good thing, so credit to both [Peter] Mackay and Erin O’Toole for moving the yardsticks withing the Tory Party…There’s a standard they need to get to and it’s more than just tolerance. I think it needs to be celebration and a vigorous pursuit of the elimination of barriers and we’ll see if the Conservative Party can get here.”
Some mild pushback from Stockwell Day was dismissed by the panel and the host out of hand. Incidentally, Justin Ling made precisely the same point in the National Post, who wrote that “in the past election, the Conservatives were the only party without a single mention of domestic queer issues in their platform.” Later, he noted with an appropriate sneer that “[n]ow that Scheer, partly because of his discomfort with [Pride parades] is on his way out, his would-be successors—Peter MacKay, Marilyn Gladu, and Erin O’Toole—are tripping over themselves with promises to don a crop top and join the march. And they have, apparently, bought themselves lifetime ally memberships for doing so.”
Of course for Ling, as with the ideologues at the CBC and the rest of the LGBT movement, nothing the Conservatives do will ever be enough. They can march in Pride, promise to rescue persecuted gay people trapped inside oppressive regimes (as Jason Kenney did), and announce their deepest respect for whatever rights our activist courts create. But it won’t be good enough, ever. As Ling noted, they want more: bans on so-called conversion therapy, the aggressive implementation of the transgender agenda…and soon enough, it’ll be eliminating tax-exempt status for churches that refuse to bend the knee, and a continuation of the LGBT war on Christian schools launched by the Alberta NDP and interrupted by the election of Jason Kenney.
Perhaps Peter Mackay would be willing to go the distance. I’m sure Michelle Rempel would. But unless they’re willing to go as far as Justin Trudeau and Jagmeet Singh, and unless they’re willing to actively persecute their own voter base, eventually they’ll be forced to realize that they are pathetically grovelling for votes they’ll never get and humiliating themselves to appeal to a media that will always be contrasting them with progressives and condemning them for not keeping up with the times. There’s always going to be something else on the LGBT wish-list, and the Conservatives will either have to draw the line somewhere, or be colonized—and watch the voters they need to secure election inevitably go elsewhere.
I’m not saying I have all the solutions to this. The Canadian media complex generally speaks with one voice, and their total contempt for social conservatives is breathtaking. The Conservatives, who didn’t bother to restrain or defund the CBC when they had the chance, are effectively running against the media and the Left, which is an unenviably tough task. But I do know one thing for certain: They will never be able to satisfy their critics—so perhaps they should begin campaigning for the votes of people who are actually willing to support them, rather than begging for scraps of approval from those who despise them. At a very minimum, it might allow them to keep their pride.